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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/29/15

Israel's army and schools work hand in hand, say teachers

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The education ministry funds several prestigious schools, such as the Reali in Haifa, whose students combine education with military training as cadets.

Ofer said many senior teachers and principals were recruited directly from the army, when they retired at 45. "They then go on to a second career instilling 'Zionist values' into the students," he said.

But the examples of overtly militarized education tend to overshadow the more subtle engineering of the curriculum of ordinary schools, complain teachers.

There are particular concerns about the emphasis in the curriculum on the Holocaust, including a decision last year to extend mandatory Holocaust studies to all ages, including kindergartens.

Following objections from the small leftwing Mertz party, the then education minister, Shai Piron, instructed kindergartens that soldiers should not bring guns into the classroom to ensure children's safety.

Meretz legislator Tamar Zandberg, however, observed that uniformed soldiers should not be in kindergartens in the first place.

"People see inserting the army into the educational system as something natural, and it's time that the educational system internalized the fact that its place is to educate to civic values," she said.

Neve said the students no longer learned about human rights or universal values in history classes.

"Now it's all about Jewish history -- and the Holocaust is at the centre of it.

"When we take the children to the deaths camps in Poland, the message is that everyone is against the Jews and we have to fight for our survival. They are filled with fear.

"The conclusion most draw is that, if we had had an army then, the Holocaust could have been stopped and the Jewish people saved."

Atmosphere of fear

The teachers said an atmosphere of fear and sense of victimhood dominated classrooms and translated into a young generation even more rightwing than their parents.

David, who teaches computer sciences in a Galilee school, said: "You have to watch yourself because the pupils are getting more nationalistic, more religious all the time. The society, the media and the education system are all moving to the right."

A 2010 survey found that 56 percent of Jewish pupils believed their fellow Palestinian citizens should be stripped of the vote, and 21 percent thought it was legitimate to call out "Death to the Arabs."

Subjects that have become particularly vulnerable to the promotion of military values, according to teachers, are Arabic, history and civics.

Naftali Bennett brought in a new head of civics in July. Asaf Malach is a political ally who believes the Palestinians should not be allowed a state.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)

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